A record number of 33 British bakery, food and drinks companies is set to exhibit at a trade show in Dubai, which aims to take advantage of the 80,000 British people who are now living in the Gulf region, according to research conducted by Food from Britain (FFB).Organised since 1987, the Gulfood show is the largest industry event of the year in the Middle East, Africa and Indian subcontinent region. The exhibition, which will run from 19-22 February, will bring together more than 2,000 companies in the industry from over 70 countries.Bakery companies exhibiting at the show this year include Burton’s Foods, Fiddes Payne and Paterson Arran.”The number of British companies that are willing to invest their time and money to take part in Gulfood 2007 demonstrates the strength of the export market in the region,” said Sandra Sullivan, exhibitions director at FFB.”With the rising numbers of expatriates and tourists choosing to live in and visit places such as the UAE – and Dubai in particular – British food and drink producers are increasingly seeing the sales opportunities on offer.”The British expatriate food and drink market in the Gulf region totalled more than £285 million in 2005, according to FFB.Staff from FFB will be on hand at the show to provide export advice on each region and the FFB will also be hosting a Trade Development Visit for companies that are interested in learning more about what the Gulf region can offer them.
Newcastle-based North East Bakery has bought 15 Milligans high street bakery shops for an undisclosed sum.Milligans, which was ranked number 42 in British Baker’s recent top 50 bakery retailers’ list, had 22 shops in the Newcastle area.North East Bakery, which was started three years ago as a wholesale and sandwich supplier, had six shops under the ’Nichols’ brand. It now plans to convert the stores to its Nichols fascia over the next 12 to 18 months.The £4 million turnover company will relocate to Milligans’ 20,000sq ft bakery in Newburn, following the asset purchase. The North East Bakery company has also taken on 100 Milligans staff, increasing staff numbers to 150.Milligans has retained four outlets, to be run as coffee shops.Greg Phillips, MD of North East Bakery commented: “This is a very exciting time for North East Bakery as it marks the start of a major growth period for the company.”
How many hotels and restaurants in the UK can boast of having a patisserie? The answer is not many. There is clearly not a tradition for it in this country – unlike in Europe. But then again, maybe it’s quality and not quantity that counts.The Homage Patisserie at the five-star Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London, is set in a room full of sumptuous rich fabrics, period furniture and restored Waring and Gillow wood panelling (the cabinet-makers to Queen Victoria). The centrepiece is a large ’jewel box’ – a glass counter full of fine pastries and cakes.No wonder head pastry chef Colin Bennett knows how lucky he is. “Not many hotels or restaurants have their own patisserie, so it’s like the cherry on the cake for me,” he says. “I know it’s not ’mine’, but it feels like my own room.”european influenceThe patisserie opened about two years ago, following a £35 million refurbishment of the hotel. The new ’room’, bar and Grand Salon were all designed to pay homage to the grand cafés of Europe.It was also about the same time that Bennett started his employment there. He had already worked as head pastry chef for five years at top hotels and restaurants in London. But this was different. “I’ve been given carte blanche to do what I want, which is great,” he says. “As long as I’m making money, I’m left alone.”Lined up in the glass counter are eight of his recipes. Each one is made fresh daily, in batches of up to 40, by his team of four; Bennett prefers to make small frequent runs, rather than cook big batches.He changes the menu every season, getting inspiration from seasonal fruit and nuts and any new products on the market. He also comes up with new ideas on how to cook the pastries, as well as their presentation, colour and shape.”I am always trying to source moulds,” he says. “I look through supplier catalogues, but they are so difficult to get in England. I have to go to Paris to get them or pick them up on my travels.”On display in the cabinet, when British Baker visited the patisserie, was an array of golden colour to reflect the shades of autumn. The pastries include a Pear and Almond Financier, which he made by putting a skewer through the pear and sitting it on top of a square mould. When the frangipane, which was already inside the mould, cooks, it rises and sets around the bottom of the pear. The skewer is then taken out.For the White Chocolate and Black Cherry Diplomat, instead of making a normal pastry cream, he substituted parts of the milk with purée to make a flavoured pastry, then added layers of sponge and poached cherries.There is also a Classic Round Strawberry Tartlet on the menu, as well as a Chocolate and Hazelnut Truffle, a Viennese Sachertorte with a chocolate spiral, and the popular Raspberry Crème Brûlée that has been cooked in a square mould. For his Passion Fruit Bavarois and Cocoa Nougatine, he used a spray gun to make a chocolatey crust on top.Bennett likes to keep the flavours simple. As he admits: “I am not into fusion food at all. I think my Pink Grapefruit and Basil Tartlet is as far as I will go.”But he is not afraid to experiment with new products on the market. These can be from microbiological foods – to enhance the flavour of, for example, ice-cream or crème fraîche – to using albumen powder as an egg substitute or adding a compound to a fruit purée, which forms into a skin that can be rolled out and made into shapes. He is also keen to use some of the vast array of food colourings that are now available. “These products are groundbreaking,” he says, “but I only use them for certain things. There is no getting away from traditional ingredients and skill.”traditional ingredientsBennett uses a couple of key suppliers to source good quality traditional ingredients and he orders a “good staple” French flour for his pastries. The products are not organic, as that can “easily double or treble the price”, says Bennett, and the pastries already cost up to £4 each.There are deliveries every day, although the larder is not overstocked. “We don’t get bulk loads of ingredients and leave them sitting around for ages.” He also has bread delivered every day – from wholegrain and white to carrot bread. He would like to bake bread on-site, but admits: “We have a very small kitchen. It’s something we are looking into, but at the moment it’s not feasible.”As well as the patisserie, which is open from 9am to 11pm, Bennett and his small team provide for up to 120 covers for afternoon tea. This includes a selection of sandwiches, scones, tartlets and other specialities. It costs £19.50. The hotel also caters to about 100 covers for the restaurant every day for lunch and dinner as well as handling covers for room service, the executive lounge, conferences and banquets and orders for about 10 celebration cakes a day. Special dietary requests, such as allergies to nuts and wheat, are included.The 300-room hotel is situated in the heart of London’s theatreland and, during its 100 years, it has hosted many opening night parties and film premieres – usually held in the ballroom. These have attracted many stars, including Elizabeth Taylor, Sir Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Dame Judi Dench, Piers Brosnan and Princess Anne. In recent months, Bennett supplied products for about 250 people who attended the opening night party of the Sinatra show.In his kitchen, which is a small room off the main kitchen area, he uses new “top quality” equipment, installed as part of the refurbishment. He also uses an electric oven but hopes to get a deck oven in due course.A lot of planning and preparation goes into running such an operation. Bennett works closely with the executive chef and the food and beverage department. He also plans his menus well in advance. “After I’ve put a menu on for a season, I am already starting on the next,” he says.Preparation for the festive season begins in August. This includes making 1,000 individual-sized Christmas puddings, packed with traditional fruits and spices and made, he says, to “grandma’s recipe”. Both his grandmothers and his mother were influential in sparking his interest in cooking and baking when Bennett was a boy.As he explains: “They were very good cooks. My grandma was more a Women’s Institute cook, who used all the old recipes. In school holidays, we used to spend hours making bread and cakes, such as simnel cake. We also made jams together and bottled fruit. On the other side of the family, my nan was a commercial cook. She used to run a kitchen in Crawley, Sussex.”Bennett works incredibly hard – an attribute he puts down to his father: “He instilled a work ethic in me when I was young.” He starts at 8am and he finishes sometimes at 9pm, depending on evening events held in the hotel.But one of the best parts of the job, he says, is teaching his trainees. He prefers to work with a young, relatively inexperienced team, whom he can bring up to the exacting standards required. They also go on one day a week release to college.”I’m very lucky, as they’re keen and want to learn. I enjoy watching them thrive and grow. But it also keeps me on my toes. I teach them new processes and explain the scientific aspect of it. But I have to check everything.”While this adds to the pressure on Bennett to deliver top-quality products every day, he alleviates it by keeping the atmosphere in the kitchen as relaxed as possible. “It’s very relaxed here, which breeds learning,” he says. “It’s a hard job, but if you’ve spent your day creating something new, there’s nothing better in life than that.” n
Starbucks USA plans to double its purchase of Fairtrade Certified coffee to 40 million pounds in 2009. This is part of a new initiative between Starbucks, Transfair USA and Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International (FLO) to support small-scale coffee farmers and would make Starbucks the largest purchaser of Fairtrade Certified coffee in the world.“We strongly believe that by working together, Starbucks and the Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International can accomplish so much more for coffee farmers and the coffee industry,” said Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer. “By doubling our commitment to Fairtrade Certified and scaling up our global partnership, we have a unique opportunity to further reinforce our ongoing efforts to benefit farmers and communities.”Starbucks also aims to expand its work with Fairtrade farmers, by leveraging Starbucks Farmer Support Centres in Costa Rica and Africa, as well as current investments in programmes that provide farmers access to credit. Transfair USA and FLO will join Conservation International as key partners in the Starbucks Shared Planet commitment to ethical sourcing.
California Raisins has launched a new competition – the California Raisin Bread Competition – in which craft bakers can win a trip to Las Vegas for producing the best looking and tasting raisin bread. First prize is a trip to IBIE – a comprehensive baking expo in Las Vegas, held in 2010, combined with a study trip to California. You will also receive PR for the product and your business. Second and third place will both receive free PR and advertising for the company and winning product.The final judging and award ceremony will be held at the National Association of Master Bakers’ annual conference in Bournemouth in May.If you are a craft baker, retail shop owner or manager, part of a commercial bakery or a bakery technician, then you’re eligible to enter.For more information please contact The California Raisin Administrative Committee on 020 8741 8513 or email [email protected] deadline for entries is 19 March 2009.
Lees Foods’ chairman and chief executive, Raymond Miquel CBE, has left the firm. The Lees business comprises Lees of Scotland and Waverley Bakery. It also owned Patisserie UK which was put into administration in March 2009 after its major customer – Costa Coffee, which accounted for 75% of its sales – switched to another supplier.Miquel rescued the firm in 1993 when it was close to bankruptcy, and losing over £1m annually. He made a number of changes including the introduction of management controls and rationalisation of the product range, which saw the business return to a profitable position. Lees said it will announce its new board structure, along with its interim results, later this month.
A raft of baked goods are to be donated to charities for the homeless, as the festive season puts people in a giving mood. Craft bakery Hobbs House has teamed up with FareShare, a national charity based in Bristol, which tackles the issues of food and waste poverty, so that its unsold loaves go towards the cause.“Until we find an accurate way of knowing how many loaves we will sell every day, we are honoured to play a titchy part in sharing the blessing of real bread with people that need it,” commented Tom Herbert, baker and director at Hobbs House.Snooker star Ding Junhui, who won the Pukka Pies UK Championship, has said he will donate part of his prize of 69 kilos of Pukka Pies – that’s 267 pies – to Sheffield voluntary group, Homeless and Rootless (HARC), which helps homeless people over the festive period.Also donating food to the homeless this Christmas is The Really Welsh Trading Company and ingredients specialist Beacon Foods. They have teamed up to provide 900 ready meals to South Wales charity Llamau.
This uses Baktem Blue (used at 20% on flour weight) for fermented buns, a ready-to-use crossing mix and a ready-to-use bun glaze. Baktem Spiced Bun Concentrate, a ready-spiced mix (25% on flour weight), is also available.Ingredients kgFlour4.000Baktem Blue 20%0.800Yeast0.200Water2.240Currants1.000Sultanas1.000Peel (if required)0.038Bun spice flavour0.035Total9.3131. Mix all ingredients together (conventional mixer: 15 minutes; spiral: 2 minutes slow, 6 minutes fast).2. Scale as required, prove 50-55 minutes (approx) at 38ºC, 80% humidity.3. Bake at 230ºC for approx 12-15 minutes.Scale weights:840g for 30 or 1008g for 36 = 28g for minis (batch in 15s).2,250g for 30 or 2,700g for 36 = 75g (40 per tray 5 x 8).Cost per unit: 6.7pRRP: £1.39p for a pack of six, giving them a profit of 91p and a margin in excess of 65% per pack even after factoring in labour costs.
Finsbury cakes fallSales of celebration cakes continued to fall at Finsbury Food Group as consumers opted to trade down. Group revenue fell 4.1% to £168.3m for the financial year to 30 June 2010, while sales in its cake division were down 9.7% on the previous year. However, its bread and free-from division saw sales growth of 9.3%.RGFC’s mixed bagThe Real Good Food Company bakery ingredients business Renshaw has seen continued growth, with sales up 14% year-on-year, reported the firm. Its Hayden’s Bakeries business saw overall sales up 20%, for the six months to 30 June 2010, but turnover at its sugar firm Napier Brown was affected by lower market prices for sugar.Success for Lees Lees Foods has achieved record sales in its Lees of Scotland and The Waverley Bakery firms, for the six months to June 2010. In its latest trading update, the firm revealed group sales were up 9%, to £9.62m. It expected pre-tax profits for the first half of 2010 to be well ahead of last year’s figure of £394,000.Leaseholds for sale Acting on behalf of private owners, Christie + Co is offering for sale the leasehold interests of two Mangetout sandwich bars in Liverpool, which have a combined asking price of £200,000. They are located on Old Hall Street and Castle Street, near the new Liverpool 1 Shopping Centre.Food price inflation Food price inflation rose to 2.5% in July, compared with 1.7% in June. The British Retail Consortium said the increase was driven by global factors, including production problems in large wheat-exporting countries, such as Russia and Canada, putting pressure on the cost of fresh food.
United Biscuits UK has added a caramel wafer to its McVitie’s Penguin range, available in a nine-pack, to sit alongside the existing Penguin Wafer.”The introduction of McVitie’s Penguin Wafer has been one of our most successful brand extensions in recent years,” said brand director Matt Brown. “The new caramel-flavoured addition is the second most popular flavour in the wafer segment, after chocolate.” The product contains 160kcal and has no hydrogenated vegetable oil, artificial colours or flavours.